Ten years ago, when the University of Maine was seeking a baseball coach to replace John Winkin, Black Bear alum Ed Flaherty wasn’t even granted an interview even though Flaherty had guided the University of Southern Maine to an NCAA Division III national championship in 1991.
“They told me it was because I didn’t have any Division I coaching or recruiting experience. I was a little surprised,” said Flaherty, who remained at USM and has compiled a 594-255-3 record in 20 seasons there.
The job is open again after nine-year coach Paul Kostacopoulos resigned Saturday to accept a similar position at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Flaherty said he is interested in the job.
A lack of Division I experience won’t eliminate anyone, according to outgoing Maine athletic director Patrick Nero, who has already hired a former Division II coach, Ann McInerney, to coach the women’s basketball team.
“We’ll look at every successful coach [regardless of division],” said Nero. “Successful coaches in the state of Maine will be given a hard look. It’s also important to look at alums.”
He hopes to have a coach by the first week of August.
Flaherty will headline a list of candidates along with other Maine grads Garrett Quinn, the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for Stetson University (Fla.); Bob Whalen, head coach at Dartmouth College for the past 16 years, and Mike Coutts, who is coaching the Peninsula Oilers of the prestigious Alaska Baseball League for top college players.
Whalen and Coutts were assistant coaches at Maine and were two of the five finalists for the job in 1997. Whalen assisted Winkin for eight years and Coutts was an assistant for 11 seasons.
Quinn said he is interested in the job and Coutts also desires the job according to Jay Kemble, the former Maine assistant who worked with Coutts. Whalen could not be reached for comment.
Kemble also said former Husson College coach John Kolasinski has applied for the job. Kolasinski was 284-262-1 in 15 seasons at Bangor’s Husson College before taking the job at Siena Heights University (Mich.) two years ago.
Kemble was a finalist for the Maine job in 1997 but isn’t interested in the job because he wants to spend more time with his family, wife Karen and children Peter, who is 6, and 3-year-old Anna.
“It’s a good job,” said the 51-year-old Flaherty. “I like the history of the program. And in New England baseball, Maine is right there at the top.”
Maine went to five College World Series in a six-year span from 1981-1986 and the Bears have made two NCAA Tournament appearances in the past four years.
Flaherty said moving up from a Division III program to a Division I program “isn’t the overriding factor for me. I like coaching and I like to win. That makes it more enjoyable.”
Flaherty is 594-255-3 at USM including six College World Series appearances. He has been named to four Halls-of-Fame including the American Baseball Coaches Association’s hall in January.
The 30-year-old Quinn has just completed his first season at Stetson and helped the Hatters earned an NCAA Tournament berth.
Quinn spent three years as a volunteer assistant at the University of Florida, going to two NCAA Tournaments with them. He has also coached at St. Thomas University (Fla.), Young Harris College (Ga.) and in the highly respected Cape Cod League.
The Skowhegan native and 1997 America East Pitcher of the Year considers the Maine job to be a “great” one.
“There are obvious challenges involving the weather and recruiting but that’s all they are, challenges. They can be overcome with a little bit of hard work and ingenuity,” said Quinn. “If you do it right, the job has a real high end to it. I’m going to pursue it and we’ll see how it goes.”
Coutts left coaching for several years to begin his Frozen Ropes indoor baseball-softball facility in Franklin, Mass. He has since added a facility in the Portland area.
He is in his first season coaching in the Alaska Baseball League. He had coached for several years in the Cape Cod League.
Whalen has led the Big Green to 296 wins which ranks him third all-time at the Hanover, N.H.-based school. He also has Cape Cod League coaching experience on his resume.